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DN Roundtable: Best 2012 non-SEC games

7/24/2012

With SEC Media Days in the rearview mirror and ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all having their media days this week, it seemed a good idea to poke our heads out of the South and look at the rest of the football landscape. Occasionally, important football is played by non-SEC teams, and this season should include some doozies. With that in mind, our DawgNation Roundtable discussion question for this week is:

“What non-SEC contest tops your list of must-see games this season?”

David Ching: Oregon's visit to USC on Nov. 3 is one of the biggest games in any conference this season. Georgia's fairly easy schedule is catching its share of criticism, but USC's is a joke. Aside from a visit to Stanford in mid-September, there is nothing on the Trojans' slate that should concern them until Oregon's high-octane offense arrives in Los Angeles for Game 9. If the Ducks can't knock off USC, I expect the Trojans to reach the BCS Championship Game -- possibly as an undefeated team.

Radi Nabulsi: I normally don’t watch West Virginia. Nothing against the Mountaineers, but Big East football, as exciting as it could be, has done little to attract my attention in recent years -- unless it was a Thursday night. But then in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 4, West Virginia drilled ACC champion Clemson, 70-33. Quarterback Geno Smith threw for a BCS record six touchdowns. Coach Dana Holgorsen and his team made an emphatic statement that night that West Virginia was a team to watch.

Well on Nov. 17, I want to watch as the Mountaineers host the Oklahoma Sooners. West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12 Conference. This inaugural year will should prove interesting to those who argue conference strengths. How will last year’s Big East champs, who obliterated the ACC champions, fare against the bad boys of the Big 12? Plus, the quarterback battle between Smith and the Sooners' Landry Jones should be fun. The Mountaineers will try to prove they belong, and the Sooners will try to dissuade them.

ESPN.com SEC blogger Edward Aschoff: I'll go with Oregon at USC. This game has national title implications written all over it. USC is challenging LSU as the nation's best team on paper, while Oregon lost some key players on both sides but still has enough fire power on offense to compete for a Pac-12 championship, if not more.

USC returns 15 starters, including the possible first pick in next year's NFL draft, quarterback Matt Barkley. Not to mention potential all-conference receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are back too, so Barkley shouldn't have a problem airing it out. And running the ball shouldn't be hard with Curtis McNeal back. The defense is solid, but has to be better than last year to make a title run. And it'll have to be better against an Oregon team that knows how to score. The quarterback spot still has to be figured out, but De'Anthony Thomas is back and Kenjon Barner should be pretty solid in the backfield. The question is if Oregon can stop the pass. This one should be full of fun and points.

ctburkes: Schools play football outside of the SEC? I kid, I kid. That Oregon vs. USC game has really turned into a great matchup in the last five years or so. The Trojans usually can overpower any opponent that tries to match up with them and play their pro-style game. Oregon's spread and speed has tended to cause problems for the Trojans, even if the Ducks are comparatively undersized. That game could be the battle for the Pac-12, if not the second spot in the BCS national title game.

Lee Bowen: Ohio State vs. Michigan. I think Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer will have some epic battles.

Want to see your opinion in the next DawgNation Roundtable? Visit The Pound every Tuesday for the Question of the Week and write a brief response. Each week we will choose one answer to be included. Responses that appear in the Roundtable will be edited for clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.